Behavioural Law and Economics As Litmus Test

Œconomia. History / Methodology / Philosophy, 7 (2017) 3, 305–329

TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2017-023

29 Pages Posted: 26 May 2017 Last revised: 5 Feb 2018

Péter Cserne

University of Hull; Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Date Written: April 3, 2017


This paper discusses a few meta-theoretical questions about Behavioural Law and Economics (BLE) in order to better understand both its popularity and the criticisms it has received. It argues that BLE provides a litmus test to reveal dividing lines, manifest latent tensions and polarize debates between various camps or traditions in both positive and normative (law and) economics, thus making epistemic and methodological commitments of economists more visible. These dividing lines include the methodological character of rationality assumptions, naturalistic and mentalist views of human behaviour, and the normative force and relevance of individual preferences, autonomy and objective metrics of welfare.

Keywords: behavioural economics, behavioural law and economics, rationality, welfare

JEL Classification: A12, B41, D03, K00

Suggested Citation

Cserne, Péter, Behavioural Law and Economics As Litmus Test (April 3, 2017). Œconomia. History / Methodology / Philosophy, 7 (2017) 3, 305–329; TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2017-023. Available at SSRN: or

Péter Cserne (Contact Author)

University of Hull ( email )

University of Hull School of Law and Politics
Cottingham Road
Hull, HU6 7RX
United Kingdom


Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE

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